Department of Information Technology

Ethics in IT

Computers and information systems are used everywhere in society. New technologies are invaluable tools but they may have serious ethical consequences. The way an information technology tool affects sensitive issues has a direct impact on its effectiveness and usability. It may be difficult for users and stakeholders to adopt a computer system if they feel that its use violates important values and interests. To take advantage of a computer tool may not be easy in situations dominated by ethical conflicts. There is a great risk that expensive but necessary computer systems are abandoned because of scandals and conflicts. There is also a risk that ethically controversial systems are used suboptimally, that persons may get hurt, and that organizations may be damaged if they hesitate to use otherwise importand and necessary computer tools.

Ethics in IT aims at the construction of tools that can be applied in systems development and use for the consideration of significant ethical aspects. The application of suitable ethical tools is a prerequisite to consider significant aspects in all phases of computer systems development, implementation and use. Ethical tools are necessary not only to construct a system that avoids conflicts with significant moral principles but mainly to build a successful system that will play a
significant role in satisfying the most important values of users and stakeholders.

Ongoing activities

1. Ethical design and evaluation

The aim of this project is to develop and implement a questionnaire for the identification of significant ethical issues in system construction and use.

2. Computer ethics test

The computer ethics test focuses on the skills of system developers and users to handle ethical problems. The structure of the computers ethics test is based on psychological theory and research on people's ability to cope with moral problems.

3. Training program in computer ethics

Educational methods for the development of higher competence in computer ethics problem solvning and decision making are constructed and tested.

4. Principles of ethical computers

The main issue of this project is to investigate the possibility to create a system that can handle moral problems. The hypothesis is that such a system has to focus on the way people handle moral problems and stimulate ethical their competence.

Project leader

Iordanis Kavathatzopoulos
Iordanis Kavathatzopoulos has a PhD in Psychology and he is Docent of Psychology at Uppsala University. Currently employed as Professor of Human-Computer Interaction at the Department of Information Technology, Uppsala University. Areas of interest: Development of ethics usability tools and methods, education programs and tests of ethical competence in IT, business and political ethics. Holds numerous publications in these areas. Is an editorial board member of "Open and Distance Education and Educational Technology" and "Journal of Business Ethics Education."

Course in IT and Ethics

An undergraduate course in IT and Ethics is given once a year as summer course Home page, Information

Masters thesis

There are several masters thesis projects in computer ethics for students Masters thesis.


Kavathatzopoulos, I. (2012). Assessing and acquiring ethical leadership competence. In G. P. Prastacos, F.
Wang and K. E. Soderquist (Eds.) Leadership and management in a changing world: Lessons from ancient east
and west philosophy. Heidelberg: Springer Verlag. PDF

Apilado, R. K., Bejemino, D. Temanil, A. and Vadecañas, P., K. (2012). A correlation between the level of Cisco Certification of Information Technology professionals and their degree of ethical competence. Manila: University of Santo Tomas, College of Accountancy.

Laaksoharju, M. (2008). Ethicking - Dealing with Ethics: Can Micro World Simulations Stimulate Ethical Competence? Master of Engineering Thesis. Department of Information Technology, Uppsala University, Uppsala. PDF

Vega Nicoli, M. (2008). A Web-Based Questionnaire of Ethical Skills. Bachelor Thesis. Department of Information Technology, Uppsala University, Uppsala. PDF

Kavathatzopoulos, I. (2007). Information Technology as a tool for democratic skills. In A. Lionarakis (Ed.), Forms of democracy in education: Open access and distance education (pp. 155-162). Athens: Propobos.

Kavathatzopoulos, I., Laaksoharju, M. and Rick, C. (2007). Simulation and support in ethical decision making. In Terrell Ward Bynum, Kiyoshi Murata and Simon Rogerson (Eds.), Globalisation: Bridging the global nature of Information and Communication Technology and the local nature of human beings (pp. 278-287). Tokyo: Meiji University. PDF

Kavathatzopoulos, I. (2006). Communication and learning in on-line courses. In M. Barkan et al. (Eds.), Lifelong open & flexible learning in the globalized world (pp. 137-144). Eskisehir, Turkey: Anadolu University.

Kavathatzopoulos, I. and Rigas G. (2006). A measurement model for ethical competence in business. Journal of Business Ethics Education, 3, 55-74.

Kavathatzopoulos, I. (2005). Computers for ethical competence. In G. Collste, S. O. Hansson, S. Rogerson & T. W. Bynum (Eds.), Looking back to the future: ETHICOMP 2005 [CD-ROM]. Linköping: Linköping University.

Erlandsson, M. and Kavathatzopoulos, I. (2005). Autonomy method - Acquiring skills for ethical analysis of computerisation in car driving. In G. Collste, S. O. Hansson, S. Rogerson & T. W. Bynum (Eds.), Looking back to the future: ETHICOMP 2005 [CD-ROM]. Linköping: Linköping University.

Åborg, C., Kavathatzopoulos, I & Öhman Persson, J. (2005). Ethical competence and stress in IT-based work. In G. Collste, S. O. Hansson, S. Rogerson & T. W. Bynum (Eds.), Looking back to the future: ETHICOMP 2005 [CD-ROM]. Linköping: Linköping University.

Kalimikeraki, K. and Kavathatzopoulos, I. (2005). Computer assisted second language learning. Open and Distance Education and Education Technology, 1, 74-97.

Kavathatzopoulos, I. (2004). Making ethical decisions in professional life. In H. Montgomery, R. Lipshitz & B. Brehmer (Eds.), How professionals make decisions (pp. 277-288). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Öhman Persson, J. (2004). The obvious and the essential: Interpreting software development and organizational change. Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis.

Kavathatzopoulos, I., Öhman Persson, J. & Åborg, C. (2004). Assessing health and moral stress in IT-based work (Tech. Rep. No. 2004-047). Uppsala: Uppsala University, Department of Information Technology.

Kavathatzopoulos, I. (2003). The use of information and communication technology in the training for ethical competence in business. Journal of Business Ethics, 48, 43-51.

Kavathatzopoulos, I., Persson, J. & Åborg, C. (2003). Information technology and moral stress: How to avoid moral stress and how to promote health. In D. Harris, V. Duffy, M. Smith and C. Stephanidis (Eds.), Human Computer Interaction (pp. 78-82). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Kavathatzopoulos, I. (2003). The contribution of information and communication technology to distance learning. In A. Lionarakis (Ed.) Proceedings of the 2nd Greek Congress of Open and Distance Education (pp. 66-70). Athens: Propompos.

Kavathatzopoulos, I. (2002). Ethical competence training for individuals and organizations. In H. von Weltzien Høivik (Ed.) Moral leadership in action (pp. 293-303). Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd.

Kavathatzopoulos, I., Persson, J. & Åborg, C. (2002). Individual learning and organizational change for ethical competence in the use of information technology tools. In I. Alvarez, et al. (Eds.) The Transformation of Organisations in the Information Age: Social and Ethical Implications (pp. 383-390). Lisbon: Universidade Lusiada.

Åborg, C., Boivie, I., Gulliksen, J., Kavathatzopoulos, I., Persson, J. & Sandblad, B. (2002). What´s ergonomics got to do with IT? In D. Caldenfors, L. Eklund and L. Kiviloog (Eds.) Humans in a complex environment (pp. 853-857). Linköping: Linköping University.

Kavathatzopoulos, I. (2001). IT user learning: The role of informal processes. In V. Makrakis (Ed.) New Technologies in Education and in Distance Education (pp. 337-345). Rethymnon, Crete: Crete University Press.

Kavathatzopoulos, I. (2001). Knowledge production processes for optimal IT use. In M. J. Smith & G. Salvendy (Eds.) Systems, social and internationalization aspects of human-computer interaction (pp. 577-581). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Åborg, C., Sandblad, B., Gulliksen, J., Kavathatzopoulos, I. (2001). Systemutveckling och arbetsmiljö: Att förebygga hälso- och arbetsmiljöproblem vid datorstött arbete genom bättre systemutveckling. [Systems development and work environment: Preventing health and work environment problems by using better systems development methods]. Arbete-Människa-Miljö & Nordisk Ergonomi, 1, 14-18.

Kavathatzopoulos, I. (2000). Ethical Competence Questionnaire-Political & Ethical Autonomy Questionnaire-Working Life and Business. In J. Maltby, C. A. Lewis & A. Hill (Eds.) Commissioned reviews of 250 psychological tests (pp. 827-831). New York: Edwin Mellen Press.

Kavathatzopoulos, I. (2000). Autonomi och etisk kompetensutveckling: Utbildnings- och utvärderingsverktyg för personer och organisationer [Autonomy and the development of ethical competence: Education and evaluation tools for individuals and organisations]. Uppsala: Arktéon.

Ström, J. (1998) Personality factors and ethical autonomy. BA thesis. Uppsala University, Department of Psychology.

Sharafi, P. (1997) Shifting from heteronomous towards autonomous decision making: Testing the effect of instruction, feedback and indirect feedback on autonomous judgment in a simulation program. Masters thesis. Uppsala University, Department of Psychology.

Carlsson, B. (1996) The use of critical thinking in ethical issues: Three assessment instruments. BA thesis. Uppsala University, Department of Psychology.

Byström, C. (1995) Ledarskap som process i ett socialetiskt perspektiv. C-uppsats. Uppsala universitet, Företagsekonomiska institutionen.

Kavathatzopoulos, I. (1994) Politics and ethics: Training and assessment of decision-making and problem-solving competency. Uppsala University, Department of Psychology, Report No. 436.

Kavathatzopoulos, I. (1994) Education in public service ethics: Resolution of conflicts and formulation of principles. Paper presented in 4th International Conference on Ethics in the Public Service, Stockholm, Juni 15-18.

Kavathatzopoulos, I. (1994) Training professional managers in decision-making about real life business ethics problems: The acquisition of the autonomous problem-solving skill. Journal of Business Ethics, 13, 379-386.

Arbin, P. (1993) Methods of handling ethical problems in complex organizations: The effect of corporate hierarchy. BA thesis. Uppsala University, Department of Psychology.

Kavathatzopoulos, I. (1993) Development of a cognitive skill in solving business ethics problems: The effect of instruction. Journal of Business Ethics, 12, 379-386.

Vilenius, H. (1993) Moralisk utveckling och förmåga till kontroll: Jänförelse mellan lagförda och icke lagförda. Psykologexamen. Uppsala universitet, Inst. f. tillämpad psykologi.

Kavathatzopoulos, I. (1992) Etisk utveckling: En fråga om rätt utbildning. I A. Beck (red.) Essäer om etik i arbetslivet (sid. 24-30). Stockholm: Civilekonomerna.

Öhlin, B. (1992) Etik & psykiatri: Hur klarar anställda inom psykiatrin att lösa etiska problem? C-uppsats. Uppsala universitet, Psykologiska institutionen.

Updated  2013-02-26 11:02:02 by Iordanis Kavathatzopoulos.